The Importance of Exercise and Physical Activity in the Therapy of Substance Use Disorders

At PACE we address all components of the disease of addiction and underlying behavioral health issues. We believe it is vitally important to help client to make long term life style modification that will reduce the desire to use substance, reduce withdrawal symptoms, and reduce cravings. Recent studies have demonstrated the therapeutic effects of exercise combined with interventions in mental disorders, especially depression, anxiety, and substance abuse related disorders.

Exercise has been found to have a positive impact by producing neurochemical alterations. This is very important for those in treatment due to the fact that “dysfunctions of dopaminergic, glutamatergic, and opioidergic neurotransmission have been linked to craving and relapse” (Zschucke, Heinz, & Strohle, 2012, p. 16) in those who suffer from substance abuse disorders. It has also been found that exercise has a positive impact on mood regulation. This is important due to the fact that negative mood, stress, anxiety, and depression increase the risk of relapse.

At PACE clients work out daily and we have found that as clients begin to engage in physical activity they begin to develop positive social support networks that are not centered in substance abusing activities. It is our goals to assist our clients in developing adaptive behavioral coping strategies that foster emotional regulation which is integral for a life of sobriety.

Please refer to the following article for more in depth information on the positive impact of physical exercise and the treatment of substance use disorders.

Zschucke, E., Heinz, A., & Strohle, A. (2012). Exercise and physical activity in the therapy of substance abuse. The ScientificWorld Journal, 1-19. doi:10.1100/2012/901741